Missing the Point Again: Congress Defies Bush on Oil Reserve, Nothing Solved

The Pelosis and Anderson Cooper

The Pelosis and Anderson Cooper, appreciating the Frozen North.

Many people have never heard of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. If you look it up on “Google” you’ll find a few blurry aerial photos and an official explanation of what it is, but not much else. The SPR, which is spaced across several different sites, is America’s “Emergency Plan” when it comes to oil. Four salt-domes in the Gulf Coast play host to America’s back-up supply of oil, a reserve meant for Americans, well, the American government, if ever the emergency need arises.

As of May 07, 2008, the current inventory was 702.0 million barrels (111,610,000 m³). At current market prices ($125 a barrel) the SPR holds over $88 billion worth of petroleum. Each day 70,000 barrels of oil are shipped to the SPR for storage, well, until now.

Despite vigorous complaints about “national security issues” from George W. Bush, Congress voted yesterday, almost unianimously, to suspend the stockpiling of more oil in the SPR until the end of 2008.

President Bush opposes the reserve measure because, he said, limiting supplies to the reserve could have national security consequences in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. He is expected to veto the bill.

Republican leaders in the House said the bill was a good “first step” to addressing gas prices, but used the vote as an opportunity to push for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Author’s note: NO!)

Drilling in the refuge could produce a million barrels of oil a day and “reduce gasoline prices by 14 times the price reduction achieved by redirecting oil from the SPR,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri in a letter Monday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

However, Pelosi argued that more drilling is not the answer, saying drilling on federal lands has increased over the years without affecting gas prices. She also said opening ANWR for drilling would only provide six months of oil — 10 years from now. (Related article)

While we agree with everything that Congress is trying to do with this vote to ease the economic strain of the American people, we still maintain our stance that making it easier for people to afford gas is really the last thing this country needs. Legislation aimed at increasing dependence on oil, funding alternative energy, or rewarding companies who have made an attempt to go green would be a much better use of Congress’ time, and a solution rather than a temporary patch like suspending shipments to SPR.

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